Oil on Canvas Board 10.5 x 13" (27 x 35cm)
Recently, I picked up a book of black and white, and sepia, photos created by a group of 'photo pictorialists' under the wing of the early 20th century American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. I quote from the editor's Introduction: 'The pictorialists believed that photography was not about the recording of documentary facts nor was it a vehicle for trying to recreate works of art, . . but was a means of creating a new purely photographic reality. . . . A wide variety of lenses negatives and manipulated techniques were used, including drawing etching, painting, and scratching both negatives and prints.' I have transgressed: by 'trying to recreate [from two or three of them] works of art.' Gertrude Kaserbier's 'Miss N' dates from 1903. Precocity, impudence, a world-weary indolence, shine languidly from that face. I have not caught anything much akin to the original expression. Using her as my model, dead though she has been these many years, I found challenge enough just translating the sepia shadows, highlights and half-lights, into colours. I spent a week in her enigmatic company. In this same collection are Clarence H. White's 'The Orchard' (1905) and Frank Eugene's 'Lady' (1910), my models for two of the paintings in last week's blog. The book, titled Camera Work, is published by Taschen.